My first stop in Central Europe before doing the triangle that everyone does, Vienna-Budapest-Prague!
Although my knowledge about classical music and classy stuff like that is embarassingly little, I have still enjoyed myself thus far! Actually, I came to Vienna specially to watch the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert because:
1. It is the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
2. It is free!
At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it, but the orchestra played popular classical pieces that were really easy to enjoy! And I was so lucky because I was standing in the 3rd row actually, and barely able to see anything, and a really kind guy offered his space in front of the railings so that I’ll be able to see better! 🙂 I was sooo grateful because I had the perfect view afterwards.
Although most people say that 1-2 days is more than enough to cover Vienna, I’m glad I chose to spend 3 days here! Initially I was worried that I’ll have nothing to do, and be really bored (especially since I covered most of the landmark sights in half a day) but the good thing is that, you’ll always find things to do. I spent 3 nights in Vienna because I wanted to watch the orchestra, the ballet as well as the opera. I mean it’s Vienna, you’ve just got to embrace the State Opera House! Definitely getting my culture fix here, because I get to do all 3 at once!
And have I mentioned Viennese food? And their cakes? Simply heavenly :3
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
We went into Schloss Gardens at around 6.45pm because that’s when the gates open, but by then we were already too late to get seats, so we stood at the side instead! Even a non-classical music fan like me really enjoyed the concert – I felt that sometimes you could feel your soul being lifted up out of your body as the crescendos rose higher and higher. It was wonderful just immersing yourself in the atmosphere.
BALLETT: van Manen | Ekman | Kylian
On my 2nd night, I went to watch a Ballet at the Opera House. I bought a seating ticket for 22 euros, but in hindsight, I should have really bought the standing ticket instead! This was a 3 part ballet, comprising of Adagio Hammerklavier, Cacti and Bella Figura. My favourite was Cacti because it didn’t feel like a ballet performance. There was a lot of rhythm, voiceovers and props, so it made it really visually appealing! Bella Figura was interesting as well, because for one part of the dance, the females were actually half-naked. I wasn’t surprised because I read up on it beforehand that there would be nude dancers but still, it’s a different experience because this would never be allowed in Singapore.
DAS RHEINGOLD|Richard Wagner
And on my last night, I went to watch the opera Das Rheingold and it was so good! It was my first time watching an opera, and also my first time buying stand-up tickets. I was pretty lost at the start because I had no idea how it worked, but it seemed like everyone was also pretty new at this thing. I also made friends with 2 French guys that were totally new to this opera thing as well – it’s always fun to meet new people 🙂
I knew that this was an iconic piece of Wagner’s, and I wanted to buy tickets like a month ago, but it was all sold out! So I decided to queue up for the standing tickets. I heard from my friends that you should queue up about 1 hour before the ticket admissions start, so I went there at about 4pm (tickets started selling at 5.10pm) and there were already about 2 full lines of people!
I had no idea that it was that popular till I realized it was also because the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was playing as well, and the conductor Sir Simon Rattler was renowned. Like people will actually go to the opera just to see Sir Simon conduct, so it was pretty cool, i got to listen to the Vienna Philharmonic Opera twice!! 🙂
I found the opera and storyline to be really interesting and I really enjoyed the experience overall. The only annoying thing is that you kept having to look down on the screen to understand what they were singing.
**Tips for buying a standing ticket**
1. Check the popularity of the show
My friend went for the standing ticket for the ballet, and he said 1 hour beforehand, there were only 10 people in line, and even though he went just 45 minutes before the show started, he could still be in the 3rd row. On the other hand, my other friend went 1 hour before Das Rheingold started, and he only managed to get one of the few remaining tickets left! So, it all depends on what is being performed. To be safe, I think 1.5 hours would be a good estimate.
2. 3 euro and 4 euro tickets
I got the 4 euro ticket because you get to be on the first floor, so I think the view would obviously be better, that’s why it’s more expensive. The 3 euro tickets are for the 2nd and 3rd floors.
3. Bring a scarf
So how it works is that once you find a good spot, you are supposed to tie a scarf on the bars to show that that place is reserved, and no one else can take your place. After that, you can walk around the state opera house or go to the washroom and still be secured of your place!
4. God Bless Subtitles
A German Opera? Fret not! Because there are tiny screens on the railings, where there are English subtitles, so that you’ll be able to appreciate the splendour of the piece.
5. Dress decently
You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but they don’t allow you to wear shorts into the opera, so dress properly if you don’t want to get turned away! Jeans are fine, though if you bought a seating ticket, you would want to dress nicely, because everyone there is dressed to the nines.
In my opinion, I think the standing tickets are one of the best in the house, especially if you arrive early, and get to stand in front. You will actually be really close to the stage, and it’s probably better and cheaper than the view you get from the 10 euros, or 22 euros tickets. Of course, the downside is that you’ll have to stand for a prolonged period of time. For Das Rheingold, it was 2.5 hours of standing, with no intermission! And it was already his shortest opera, as compared to the other 3 parts of the opera – imagine standing for 4 hours!
So that sums up my nights of culture in Wien – orchestra, ballet and opera, so glad I managed to get to see all of them!